Psalm 1 Tree Time

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One of the other things I was struck by during my 40 Days study was the importance of God’s word. In particular, though reading Rick Warren’s book was both stimulating and encouraging, I found myself longing for more time just reading the Bible. I don’t know if this was despite, or because of, all the intellectual discussions about the Bible I’ve been having with Alan. I toyed with the idea of going to 2 Timothy to explore the authority of scripture, but finally decided that Psalms would serve as a more emotional/relational approach to the same topic.

Given the huge size of the Psalms, though, I don’t want to tackle them all at once. The logical first step is probably Book I: Psalms 1-41. We’ll see how that goes.

Questions: What makes a man strong? Is the Law good? What do I most delight in? Who is really ‘blessed’? “Read More” to pursue answers in the Psalms.

Lord, speak to me through your Spirit and your Word, your Body and your Blood;
that I might know you as you are, and manifest the image of Christ in this world,
and the world to come. Amen.

Psalms 1:1-6

Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

I just recently heard the idea that the counterpoint to a “Proverbs 31 woman” is a “Psalms 1 man.” While I wouldn’t want to claim this Psalm exclusively for men, I do like the idea of having a similar (even if similarly impossible 🙂 ideal to shoot for.

Like many Psalms, the central idea (avoiding evil associations) is expressed through parallelism, not walking/standing/sitting with ungodly/sinners/scornful. While there’s undoubtedly some interesting subtleties in those specific terms, the more interesting word to me is “Blessed.” The word is often translated ‘happy’, and in fact that very sense of the word is the basis of my blog’s title (“Radically Happy”).

Of course, this verse just says what is antithetical to happiness. So what is?

But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

It is sad how few Christians understand what it means to “delight in the Law.” The Right tends to wield it like a club, and the Left fears it for the same reason. But happy is the man who understands the true purpose of the Law, for:

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

The Law really is a Very Good Thing. It isn’t some arbitrary set of rules set by a capricious monarch to keep us in subjugation and slavery. On the contrary the Law is the optimal way to live a productive life, in contrast to:

The ungodly [are] not so: but [are] like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

Intriguingly, there is also a social aspect to the difference:

Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

Not only are the works of their hands doomed to fail, they’ve also cut themselves off from relationship with the virtuous. And with God:

For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Still, having said all that, I realize full well that we are incapable of fulfilling the Law on our own. In fact, that is why we in our shame often bifurcate into a judgmental Right or antinomian Left. The reality of the Law is often Bad News for us (in contrast to the Good News of Grace), but that doesn’t mean the Law itself is bad.

Also, in case it isn’t obvious, I include the authority of Scripture in general as being reflective of the Law: a revelation of God’s character and commands to which we are obliged to submit. Whether or not we do so (or are able to) doesn’t change the fact that they are Good. Viva la Law!

Prayer

God, in my spirit and my mind I revere the Law, but my soul and flesh often rebel. Forgive me for the times I’ve wasted myself on cheap rationalizations and selfish indulgences. Teach me anew the delight of your Law, that I may be solidly rooted and built up in your unchanging principles, that I may yield eternal fruit. I ask this in Jesus name, and by His grace, Amen.

About the Title:

Today’s title is a weak pun on strong tea.

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